Staff Sergeant Tristan Mitchell, Drum Major of the NZ Army Band.

I believe it's vital to remain happy. I'm happiest either at home relaxing with my wife and two kids, or at work, being Drum Major of the New Zealand Army Band.

The moment I enjoy most is stepping out before a crowd of thousands to perform our unique marching displays. To hear the crowds react gets the adrenaline pumping and drives the performance to another level. A definite happy place.

I joined the New Zealand Army Band in 1993 and have completed close to 20 years' service. Those 20 years have moved by very quickly. I'm a coaster at heart and began my musical career at the age of 11 in my home town of Westport, playing trombone with the Westport Municipal Band.


When I was a teenager, the New Zealand Army Band came to Westport during a regional tour, and I was transfixed. Not long after, I found myself in Waiouru doing basic training before joining the band at its home location, Burnham Military Camp in Canterbury. Since then I've progressed through the ranks to serve as Drum Major, senior instructor of the School of Music and band master.

My job today consists of creating, planning and rehearsing the band for anything marching. This includes military parades, state and ceremonial parades, community events or one of our world-renowned marching displays.

I am honoured to do a job that comes with huge challenges and responsibilities. It is made easier by the 36 extremely talented men and woman who fill the ranks behind me.

Military bands are the business card of a defence force. We're an elite, professional military unit and we serve New Zealand with performances that are versatile and innovative, fitting the pace and tempo of 21st century life.

Over the years there have been many highlights. This year we had the honour of changing the guard at Buckingham Palace and performing in front of the Queen at the Diamond Jubilee Pageant at Windsor Castle.

A few years ago the band took part in the Auckland Farmers Santa Parade, and we are excited to be back this year to lead the parade. We have a unique style that might surprise both young and old.

It's an amazing parade, full of colour and sounds and characters and atmosphere. As I lead the band down the street I can't help but be in my happy place.